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Why Do Solar Farms Kill Birds? Call in the AI Bird Watcher

Source: 
Wired Magazine

Solar facilities kill tens of thousands of birds every year, and no one is quite sure why. An artificial-intelligence-powered birder is on the case....

Discussions

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 10, 2020 3:57 pm GMT

"Solar facilities kill tens of thousands of birds every year, and no one is quite sure why. "

Depends on the type of solar faciility, but some concentrated solar power (CSP) facilities kill thousands of birds every week, and everyone is quite sure why: the birds fly into into a region of concentrated solar power and are burned alive.

Known as "streamers", observers in this video are watching one bird go up in smoke every 5-6 seconds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_7xOx-HMxk

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Aug 11, 2020 4:36 pm GMT

This is great to study and get more FACTS. This quote tells a lot more than counting dead birds. QUOTE=n 2016, a first-of-its-kind study estimated that the hundreds of utility-scale solar farms around the US may kill nearly 140,000 birds annually. That’s less than one-tenth of one percent of the estimated number of birds killed by fossil-fuel power plants (through collisions, electrocution, and poisoning).

   Did they count the number of birds that die from vehicle collisions, flying into glass buildings and windows. That and many other pollution would tell a better and complete story. As Bob mentioned Concentrated Solar and Wind may kill a few birds but I don't see how any would die from Solar PV.  

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 12, 2020 5:10 am GMT

Yes Jim, "solar and wind may kill a few birds." But they're not sparrows flying into windows, or being caught by cats:

"A 2013 study published in The Wildlife Society Bulletin found that wind turbines killed an estimated 573,000 birds annually in the United States. And that figure was almost 7 years ago. According to U.S. Wind Energy State Facts ( Oct. 2016), there are over 52,000 wind turbines installed across 40 U.S. States plus Puerto Rico & Guam. At the Altamont Wind Resource Area alone, more than 2,000 Golden Eagles have been killed by turbines."

"In December, 2016, a new eagle-management plan announced a final rule by the federal government that would give wind energy developers 30-year permits to “take”, or incidentally kill, protected Bald and Golden Eagles, without requiring the industry to share mortality data with the public or take into consideration such critical factors as proper siting. The so-called Eagle Take Rule, finalized by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, puts many thousands of the nation’s protected Bald and Golden Eagles at unacceptable risk."

White-Tailed Eagle cut in half by wind turbine blade.

"That’s [140,000] less than one-tenth of one percent of the estimated number of birds killed by fossil-fuel power plants (through collisions, electrocution, and poisoning)."

What's your source for this claim?

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Aug 12, 2020 2:19 pm GMT

Bob, Thanks for the added infomation. Most wind farms seem to try and locate away from migrator paths. A Golden eagle might be the exception and go it's own ways. I had never heard about those issues before. 

Was this a real FACT or ? QUOTE="That’s [140,000] less than one-tenth of one percent of the estimated number of birds killed by fossil-fuel power plants (through collisions, electrocution, and poisoning)."

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 12, 2020 4:17 pm GMT

The figure appears to come from the paper being discussed in the article: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148116301422#!

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 12, 2020 5:48 pm GMT

Obviously, an insignificant number of eagles, hawks, and other soaring birds (if any) are killed by flying into windows or being eaten by cats.

Avian mortality ascribed to "Fossil fuel power plants" is from a paper written by Benjamin Sovacool (c), a pro-renewables activist with scientific training limited to general-education science courses. He concludes that "fossil-fueled power stations appear to pose a much greater threat to avian wildlife than wind and nuclear power technologies", without any consideration of the relative quantities of power each provides.

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